Liturgies from Below: Praying with People at the End of the World
It’s been said that prayer is the vocabulary of faith. This book offers a wealth of resources from forgotten places to help us create a new vocabulary for worship and prayer, one that is located amidst the poor and the major issues of violence and destruction around the world today. It is a collection of prayers, songs, rituals, rites of healing, Eucharistic and baptismal prayers, meditations and art from four continents: Asia-Pacific Islands, Africa, Americas, and Europe.
Liturgies from Below is the culmination of a project organized by the Council for World Mission (CWM) during 2018-2019. Approximately 100 people from four continents worked with CWM, collaborating to create indigenous prayers and liturgies expressing their own contexts, for sharing with their communities and the rest of the world. The project was called “Re-Imagining Worship as Acts of Defiance and Alternatives in the Context of Empire”.
The author and others spent weeks living in each of four communities for several weeks/months, getting to know the people, and then facilitating the people’s own creation of prayers and liturgies. The author, other scholars, pastors, artists, activists and students all came from radically different ethnicities, races, sexualities, churches and Christian theologies. The people in each location were poor, living in very challenging communities, living in oppressive and seemingly hopeless situations. After some time, they wrote prayers and stories of their experience trying to live the Christian faith in utterly abandoned places. What we have here is an immensely rich and varied collection of liturgical sources from various communities dealing with issues of violence, immigration/refugees, drugs, land grabbing, war on the poor, attack on women, militarization, climate change, and so on.
Cláudio Carvalhaes, theologian, liturgist, preacher and artist, a native Brazilian, is Associate Professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City since 2007. He taught at McCormick Theological Seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. A much sought after speaker, writer, performer, and consultant, Carvalhaes has published widely and has given academic presentations, performances and delivered sermons at over 40 conferences and academic societies around the world. He published Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality (Wipf&Stock, 2013), and the forthcoming What Does Worship Have to do With it? Interpreting Life, Church and the World Liturgically (Cascade Books, 2018). He is the editor of Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives – Only One is Holy, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and Forms of Speech, Religion and Social Resistance, CrossCurrents, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Summer 2016). Carvalhaes is an ordained pastor within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).